Clinton staffers circulate Obama “Muslim” photo – Updated

If this wasn’t authorized by her campaign then they need to be firing some staffers. It’s stuff like this that will just tick voters off and make them vote against Hillary.

Here’s a story on it from the Daily Mail:

Barack Obama’s campaign chief today accused Hillary Clinton’s aides of “shameful offensive fear-mongering” by circulating a smear photo designed to trick voters into once again thinking the black presidential hopeful is a Muslim.

David Plouffe claimed members of the former First Lady’s team had emailed an image of the Democratic frontrunner dressed in a tunic and turban.

Mr Obama, who was raised as a Christian by his white mother despite his Kenyan father being Muslim, has been dogged for months by claims he is secretly following the Islamic faith.

The photo – published on U.S. website the Drudge Report – was reportedly taken while the Illinois senator was visiting Wajir, a rural area in northeastern Kenya in 2006.

Mr Plouffe hit out saying: “On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election.

Here’s the image in question:

Obama

From the Politico, Clinton’s campaign issued a response:

The Clinton campaign issued an official response to the growing tempest – but the statement from campaign manager Maggie Williams did not respond to the central question of whether staffers circulated the photo.

“Enough,” Williams said in the statement. “If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.

“This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry. We will not be distracted.”

They have yet to deny that the photo started circulating from the Clinton campaign, which means it most likely did. It’s not unusual for world leaders to wear culturally acceptable clothing when visiting other countries.

For example:

other world leaders
Click for larger

I’ve reported many times before that the rumors of Obama being Muslim have not been circulated by Republicans but they have come from within in Clinton’s campaign. Not necessarily authorized by Hillary, but staffers or low level aids have circulated negative things about Obama for months now.

I would say it’s stories exactly like this that will turn voters off to Clinton and possibly cost her this nomination.

Update:

Here’s a report on this whole issue along with other Clinton/Obama news from Fox News with some thoughts from famed Bush political adviser Karl Rove:

I agree that this story is more a shock value that someone in the Clinton campaign would actually release the photo and try to make it an issue. I’m sensing a lot of bad blood between the two campaigns which may boil over in Tuesday night’s (2/26) Democratic debate on MSNBC.

  • Stalin

    I wouldn’t put this past Clinton, but I highly doubt she was dumb enough to authoriize this. However, if Obama isn’t embarrased or ashamed of the photo, then why even respond?

  • I would say you have to respond to it just to set the record straight. The truth is that there probably is a small number of voters who may believe the rumors about him being Muslim and this would add to it. If they didn’t respond, it would look like they had something to hide. Besides, it’s easily explainable, especially when looking at the other pictures of Bush and Clinton dressed in appropriate cultural attire.

  • Michael

    Obama’s campaign is responding for two reasons, both dealing with the issue of appearance:

    1) There has been a lot of underhanded rumors that have tried to link Obama to Islam in order to scare voters away from supporting him. This photo could easily be absorbed by uninformed voters as a direct confirmation of these rumors (check this website, some people have asked questions about these very rumors here).

    2) The best way to combat Clinton’s negative campaigning has been to make it public. This has been the Clinton “kyptonite” so to speak, and has catapulted Obama ahead in the polls before. Responding to it will again deliver a blow to the Clinton campaign.

  • Stalin

    Mike

    1) I think that the questions about Obama and Islam were warranted. His father was Muslim and he spent a lot of time in Islamic countries. He has a Muslim middle name. Now that we know that he isn’t Muslim, it’s time to drop such allegations and suggestions. However, I personally am skeptical of his Christian affiliation. I would not be surprised if he didn’t use Christianity to further his political aspirations. He knows you can’t be president in this country if you are an atheist.

    2) Perhaps he should have responded, but maybe just said “so what of it?”

  • mst0192

    shame on you, mrs. clinton, shame on you!

    hillary is getting ridiculus..

  • JIM

    If 12% of the US population were muslim and comprised over 20% of the democratic party, Sen Obama would undoubtedly boast of his Islamic heritage, hoping to gather 80% or more of their votes. His heritage is what it is, he seems to want to claim the African part which gives him political advantage while claiming any reference to his Islamic heritage is fearmongering. Maybe he should point out the possible advantage in furthering international relations with islamic countries by having a president with an islamic heritage.

  • David

    To Stalin:

    The true issue is: why does religion matter? He shouldn’t use Christianity to further his political aspirations. Unfortunately, there are enough ignorant people who believe an individual must fall within a specific religious box to be a good leader. If your going to be in politics in a mostly closed minded society you must adapt the rhetoric that the society follows. Many voters are hateful to those who follow a different religion, sexual orientation, race, or gender. It’s sad that a person running for office must use religion to further themselves.

    We mock middle eastern countries for basing law of an ancient book that supports islam. However, if a political leader makes a statement that doesn’t follow an ancient book that’s used to teach Christianity the entire country questions their morals and judgment. Its a double standard that speaks: Your ideas are crazy unless they’re mine.

  • It is proper etiquette when traveling outside the U.S and mingling with other cultures to adhere to there customs, so this does not come off offensive to me. Would you accept a floral lei if you ventured to Hawaii? However, what I find interesting is that there are Americans who will see this picture of Obama and it will only fuel there flames when it comes to the Muslim issue. I belong to an organization that packs supplies and goodies for the troops, well packing with these ladies the topic of presidential candidates was mentioned. Boy do ladies have a lot to say this issue. I was shocked that the majority of these women believe whole heartedly that Barack Obama is a Muslim. With no desire to hear an opposing opinion these women were content on bashing Obama. So even though the majority of Americans will dismiss the claims that Obama is converting to Islamic beliefs, you still have those who will not waver nor take the time to find out what the mans religious beliefs are. Now the real issue when speaking of the mans faith is the church to which he belongs. I am not comfortable with the racist white bashing and misinterpretation of the bible, Barack has even gone as far as to ask his pastor to say away from him on the campaign trail.

  • Stalin

    David

    There should not be a litmus test for religion. I voted for Mitt Romney and he lost because of his faith. I think that religion is just another guide to help voters decide who would best represent their values in office. For example, I may think twice about voting for a Scientologist because they may attempt to dismantle the entire health care sector.

  • nzpudding

    When I went to Egypt I dressed as an Egyptian but it doesn’t make me a muslim. When I went to Germany I dressed in traditional german laderhosen, but that doesn’t make me a Nazi, nor would it make me French if I rode around with a string of onions around my neck.

    This sort of fearmongering crap the Clinton campaign is doing is shameful and I highly doubt she didn’t know about it.

  • Pathetic Clinton

    Politics of fear won’t work anymore Mrs. Clinton. You days are counted and the polls in Texas are showing it!

    Goodbye, you are the weakest link…

  • John Wolfe

    People tip-toe around things in order to be politically correct. The fact is that millions of Americans will not vote for someone who is part African-American. The Muslim heritage thing will not help either. This is wrong, but it is reality, particularly in the rural areas – and yes, they do still exist!
    Mr. Obama has hurt himself by doing silly things, like not wearing the American flag pin on his suit lapel and not placing his hand over his heart with the playing of the National Athem. Note I said silly, because he should know that symbolism is very important to many Americans. Hilary didn’t do that…he did, and the Republicans will play it to the hilt if he is the nominee and we will see John McCain sworn in as President.

  • Michael

    John, there is some substantiation to the charges that Obama did not put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem. This is a false charge.

    And while there may be people who will not vote for an African American, there have been over 10 million who have voted for him.

    I do not think there is much to go on with the whole lapel argument. But we shall see.

  • Stalin

    So we can put this to rest, Obama has stated that he puts his hand over his heart for the pledge of allegiance but for the national anthem he sings. The picture that was taken at Tom Harkins annual steak fry was during the national anthem.

  • A little reality check, folks. The photo wasn’t “planted” or “released” by anyone, it’s been attributed to the Associated Press and has been on the Internet since 2006 at the URL below, with no apparent complaints from the Obama folk:

    http://www.geeskaafrika.com/ethiopia_31aug06.htm

    Note that the photo very correctly identifies Obama as a US Senator, since he was on an official visit representing the US government (check his website). The taxpayers who footed the bill have every right to see the picture, but Obama seems to wish that, “what happens in Africa stays in Africa” 🙂

    I, for one, thought the picture was touching given Obama’s heritage and brief relationship with his father. But that very same heritage seems to have given him the chameleon-like nature that makes it hard for him to take a firm stand on anything. He should have embraced the image proudly, but instead he distanced himself from it.

    It’s a shame, I could actually picture myself voting for the man if he were not such a whiner and would stand up for what he believes in.

    If McCain has the brains and guts to pick Condi Rice for VP, the good ship Obama may be in trouble. Barring that, he looks like the next pres. I’m optimistic enough to hope he can grow into the role.

  • Babs

    I agree with you Peter, if McCain were to choose Rice for VP, it’s all over but the shouting! They have my vote! *GRIN*

  • Michael

    This string of comments is also found elsewhere on the website. While some conservatives might appreciate Rice as a VP, it would make it too easy to equate th McCain ticket with another Bush presidency (what the Democrats are itching to do).

    The best bet for McCain is to steer away from associating himself with the current administration (which he has been doing). This doesn’t mean he cannot appoint a conservative as VP. Just one who is not deeply involved in an administration that has less than 30% popular support.

  • Babs

    Point well taken, Michael. The best choice may not always be the “best choice”.